Friday, April 9, 2010

A plea for typography

My introduction to the word biz included extensive training in typography, the arcane and underappreciated art that makes printed text both beautiful and easier to read. Despite what you see increasingly on the web, that art is even more important online, where readers are often reluctant to read from the screen.

So it's with some frustration that I've seen the style change on from paragraph separations to no separations and no indents. It's been bad enough that the Courier editors generally insist on splitting what should be paragraphs up into individual sentences. By removing any indication of the head of the line, they've made a mess of the page, and as a result I'm sure many readers tire and give up. That's bad for public information and it's bad in terms of eyes on pages and the revenues they bring into the paper.

This change happened a little while ago, and I've been holding off commenting on it in hopes that it was a transitory glitch someone was working to fix.

I expect it came about porting stories to the site from the paper edition, where the typography software automatically indents body text, and no one has bothered to set up a short conversion routine to simply double the end-of-line character. That's just one of many ways to skin this cat, it's easy and will cost nothing. Since the editors apparently don't care, can someone in IT just handle it? Your readers won't necessarily understand well enough to thank you, but they will get to the end of the story a lot more often and the Courier may then be able to afford to keep paying you.

Update, April 27: Perhaps this did the trick.

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